Letter: Underestimate social comms at your peril

Your story on the Department of Health's plans to invest in social marketing did not do justice either to what social marketing is or what it can achieve ('DoH beefs up roster for social marketing project,' 1 September).

The story describes social marketing as 'the use of third-party endorsement to convey health messaging'. It is very much more than this.

Social marketing is an entire marketing discipline, which is designed to influence the way in which people behave in their daily lives.

It combines commercial marketing with theories of behaviour change and social learning, and is emerging as the most exciting - and effective - model for addressing today's most pressing lifestyle challenges.

A recent review by the National Consumer Council has established that a social marketing approach could dramatically improve the impact of government health campaigns.

Systematic social marketing can also influence people's attitude towards public transport, energy use, recycling, community safety and civic involvement.

If 'third-party endorsement' could achieve all of this, our job as social marketers would be a great deal easier than it actually is.

Amanda Duffy, associate director, The Forster Company.

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